Elastic Springs Back

Tripping Daisy's DeLaughter explains how "Jesus" can save rock

The only things Tripping Daisy have to show for the last three years are amodest hit ("I Got a Girl," from the band's major-label debut, I Am anElastic Firecracker), a successful tour supporting that album and twoyears off. Not bad, but the rock beast must constantly be fed to survive-orat least to prevent it from eating its own spawn. To that end, leadsinger/songwriter Tim DeLaughter and Tripping Daisy recently profferedJesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb. Now, the group is preparing for itsfirst tour in two-and-half-years (kicks off Sept. 9 in Nashville) to supportthat record, but DeLaughter isn't interested in talking about the extendedtime off or the songs from his band's latest.

"I don't really want to talk about that, to tell you the truth. It kind ofbothers me, this biography crap. I'm more interested in talking about what Ithink about what's going on in music today." (For the record, the band neededto regroup after spending the better part of '95 and '96 on the road. After awhile, DeLaughter had much on his mind. The studio seemed the logical placefor him to vent.)

"This record ... is the most honest record coming out in the last few years,"DeLaughter says. "It's overlooked. It's like other things that are going ontoday, as far as radio goes on. It's in bad shape. It seems like art'scompletely overlooked. It kind of [makes me] distraught, since I'm acontributor and completely aware of what real art is going on and seeing itcompletely missed by big corporations." And one more thing: "Not to say howdisgusting I think it is, not just the magazine [Rolling Stone], but radiotoday is pretty much shattering what's been going on, the real thing going on,real music."

DeLaughter may be angry, but he's not unaware of his position as a songwritersigned to a major label. "I'm taking advantage of having the privilege to beable to play music, to be able to reach people," he says. "I'm takingadvantage of that opportunity. I'm giving them something that's from theheart, from the soul, that I consider is real, American music." And the partabout being signed by a big corporation (Island is owned by multimedia giantPolyGram), isn't that antithetical to raging against the death of art?

"You have to become what you despise to be able to have something to talk about," DeLaughter responds. "I became what I despised; I was part of that marketing scheme," DeLaughter says of the first heady days of big-money-supported tours and calling the career shots. "I was part of that, God-'Here, do this and you will get this,' and 'Do this and you will get that'-and that whole sort of, like, large mentality of playing part of thepredictability game. I realized that it wasn't about that. I kind of got backto where I got started in the first place."

Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb and its upcoming tour, then, areDeLaughter's statement. But elaborating on that statement is not part of hisplan. "I'm simply going to rely on word-of-mouth, I'm simply going to rely onhonesty to prevail," DeLaughter says of promoting the new album. "That's mynew attitude. I don't have to promote myself, I've already done it. It's gonnabe, if you hear this, I'm relying on the person that truly, like, loves musicand is seeking out what they're not getting ... I'm relying on them to tellsomebody."